Batik, an aesthetic way to relax
Annie Weiss, a resident of Lyon, has an interesting way to escape the monotony of her life as a senior practicing gynecologist. Each year, she takes one month off and flies to Bali to learn the art of batik painting in Ubud. She has been doing this since 1999.
“I also travel to other parts of the country, to Java and Sumatera, but I always take time to come here and refresh my skills in batik painting,” the French lady said, referring to Nirvana Pension and Gallery on Ubud’s Jl. Gotama.
The charming inn is owned by I Nyoman Suradnya, an accomplished painter who had exhibited his works in many countries abroad before returning to his hometown in Padangtegal to run a home stay and entertain, sometimes intrigue, his guests with a philosophical banter that mixes Balinese Hinduism’s gorgeous spiritualism with Zen Buddhism’s bare bones perspective.
Making batik, Suradnya said, is a training in spiritualism.
“It is meditation in action, you have to be aware of your breath, focus your mind as well as your body, and be here now,” he once said.
Nirvana Pension offers one- to five-day batik painting courses held in an open pavilion surrounded by green plants, bird cages, two hyperactive dogs and dozens of Suradnya’s works. A one-day course will introduce the participants to the story behind batik, the materials and tools, the techniques of using canting and brush, hand coloring and dip dyeing methods, wax removal and finishing touches.
Most of the batik class are now run by Suradnya’s sole son and promising apprentice, Tu Adi, while the “old master” will sit on a long wooden chair next to the kitchen, munching delicacies while announcing “koan” to help his students reach a better state of spirituality, or a better understanding of the intricate process of creating batik.
For Annie Weiss, the class gives her an opportunity to work with her hands.
“Back home, I didn’t do anything manually, I only did intellectual work, I need to do something using my hands.”
Painting batik also strengthens her bond with her inner self.
“When I paint batik, I try to feel with my heart and not to think with my mind.”
So, on that cool Tuesday afternoon, Annie Weiss immersed herself in a meditation of colors and lines, while the revered teacher lit incense and savored the quiet ambience. The dogs were sound asleep under the wooden table.
— Photos by I Wayan Juniartha